Waiheke Island

Onetangi Beach at sunset.

A trip to Waiheke island is one of those highly recommend trips in any guidebook for Auckland city. Waiheke Island is situated in the Hauraki Gulf and is an easily accessible day trip. Waiheke Island is Auckland’s summer playground and is also fast becoming the destination for luxe weddings. It is a place renowned for its bohemian atmosphere, gourmet produce and its beautiful wines. Waiheke Island is the place where Aucklanders go to get away from the drollness of city life.

Waiheke Island, ferry terminal.

Getting to Waiheke Island

There are several options available for the boat trip across the gulf, and the majority of them depart from Auckland Pier. The government run ferries are the cheapest option, they have multiple sail times throughout the day and don’t require pre booking. These ferries run over public holidays and weekends. However, If you want a more luxury experience you can book a private ferry charter to the island instead.

Onetangi Beach, also known as the beach of tears.

Getting around the island

Now this is the hard part, Waiheke Island has limited public transport, which mainly services the routine and touristy areas. For anywhere off the beaten track like the Man O’ War vineyard, you’re on your own. You can hire taxis however they are few and far in between.

If you are planning on doing some nature hikes and heading to some of the more remote wineries then you should definitely look into hiring a car. One thing to note is that most travel insurance policies don’t cover cars travelling via ferry. So it’s good to check if a car hire from Auckland to Waiheke Island by ferry is covered under your policy. There are also some car hire companies on the island available.

We ended up using taxis to get to our accomodation in Onetangi and utilised the bus when we wanted to travel to the main parts of the island.

Onetangi Beach

Accomodation

We travelled to New Zealand over the Easter long weekend, and as such the cost of accomodation was expensive. We ended up having to travel further out from the centre of the island to stay within our budget. Most of the accomodation is owned by holiday rental chains, although Airbnb rentals are also available in certain parts of the island.

We stayed in Onetangi (Maori word for beach of tears), in a serviced apartment that was a short walk to the local beach. Due to its close proximity to the beach, we spent quite a bit of time there, although in the middle of April the water was very cold!

Things to do

Hiking:

There are a treasure trove of hikes and walks that you can do on the Island. This includes a range of scenic walks along cliff faces and down into the local beaches. As public transport on the island is difficult, walking can be a fantastic way for getting around to explore all of the Island’s natural beauty.

The pathway to the beach in Oneroa.

Water activities:

There are a host of water activities to do in and around the island, these include: fishing tours, surfing, jet skiing as well as snorkelling and scuba diving. Being a holiday island the vibe is incredibly laid back and getting to the beach is a must do activity whilst visiting here!

Visiting Oneroa:

Oneroa is the main town on the island, it has a very cool bohemian vibe and is teeming with boutique jewellery and clothing shops as well as funky craft and general knick knack stores. Its the type of place where you will always be able to pick up that perfect souvenir for your trip.

Wineries

Waiheke Island is renowned for all its local produce and of course the wines. Visiting a world renowned vineyard is not a bad way to spend a leisurely afternoon. Some of the vineyards even have stunning views that go along with their gorgeous produce.

The stunning view of the Hauraki Gulf, from the picnic grounds at Cable Bay Vineyard

There are a plethora of different vineyards throughout the island. The island was famous for growing Bordeaux style wines however there has been recent branching out into Syrah and white wine varietals over the past decade.

Cable Bay Vineyard:

We decided to visit Cable Bay vineyard as we had a bit of time to kill before checking into our accomodation. This vineyard is relatively close to the ferry terminal, although we did need to catch a taxi as we had our luggage with us.

The cheese platter at Cable bay was divine with a fruit chutney and sourdough bread.

The vineyard is beautiful, its the perfect place to laze about taking in the view of the ocean from its outdoor dining and picnic areas. Dining at the vineyard is divided into three parts: the formal restaurant, an outdoor alfresco area and the beanbag picnic grounds. During the weekend the winery can become packed with hungry tourists so getting there early to snag a beanbag overlooking the Hauraki gulf is recommended. All the food was amazing, however I highly rate their cheese platter and their beautiful Viognier wine which was so easy to drink!

Pork ribs and sausage tapas along with a their cheese board and bottle of Viognier

Other highly recommended wineries on Waiheke Island include:

  • Mudflat winery
  • Man of War
  • Tanatalus Estate

Food

Oyster Inn, Oneroa:

This is a classy seafood restaurant located on the second floor of a commercial building on the mainstreet of Oneroa. The interior is very elegant although still manages to exude a laidback seafood shack vibe.
The oysters, as you can imagine are the speciality here with a wide variety to choose from. We were even lucky enough to try some Bluff Oysters whilst we were there. They were incredibly creamy!

Oysters at the oyster inn. The smaller ones are the New Zealand Bluff Oysters.
Prawn cocktail, salmon gravalax and side salad at the Oyster Inn.

Island gelato:

This is a small roadside food truck that sells specialty gelato on the mainstream of Oneroa. They have a range of innovative flavour combinations like basil and lemon. It was a really nice way to finish our day exploring the village of Oneroa with this gelato in hand!

Onetangi food options

Onetangi is a large holiday town, frequented by families. The town has a small selection of eating options located close by to the beach. Most of the options are targeted towards families and are a nice way to unwind after a day spent exploring the island.

The best thing about a trip to this island is that it is so close to Auckland and can be easily visited as a daytrip. You don’t need to stay on the island to enjoy all that it has to offer. Waiheke Island provides the perfect summertime vibes during a trip to New Zealand!

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